George Pell is a man who believes in transubstantiation (in Latin, transsubstantiatio): “the change of the substance of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ occurring in the Eucharist… while all that is accessible to the senses remain as before. In Greek it is called μετουσίωσις (see Metousiosis)”.
On this, I think, we can be fairly clear.
On matters less spiritual — which is to say, potentially costly, in terms of filthy lucre — George is less clear. Thus while a Church-sponsored investigation into claims of abuse concluded that the complainants’ allegations “be sustained without qualification”, George’s pen slipped when it came time for him to communicate this finding to the man in question: “In the 2003 letter, obtained by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Pell told Jones [the complainant] an internal report did not support his accusation of attempted aggravated sexual assault.”
He has today admitted that the letter to Mr Jones was badly worded. He says he made the mistake because he understood aggravated sexual assault to be synonymous with rape.
The letter said: “No other complaint of attempted sexual assault has been received against Father Goodall and he categorically denies the accusation.”
“Mr Murray was of the opinion that the complaint of attempted aggravated sexual assault cannot be considered to have been substantiated,” the Archbishop wrote.
So, two untruths. First, when George wrote that no other complaint regarding the priest in question had been received. In reality, on the very same day George wrote this, he also wrote another letter to another man, a former altar boy, acknowledging that the priest, Goodall, had assaulted him. Secondly, when George wrote that the Church investigator, Mr Murray, had found Jones’ complaint to be unsubstantiated. In reality, Murray concluded that Jones’ allegations “be sustained without qualification”.
Unmentioned thus far in media accounts of George’s innocent mistake has been the fact that he’s got form.
Pell’s man helped pedophile priests
June 2, 2002
A new row broke out yesterday over the way Catholic Archbishop George Pell handled child-sex abuse cases, with claims his appointment of a psychiatry professor to deal with victims was “insensitive”.
Dr Pell, when he was archbishop of Melbourne in 1996, set up Carelink, a free counselling and support service for victims of clergy, in response to scandals plaguing the Catholic Church.
The man he chose to chair Carelink was Richard Ball, the former chair of psychiatry at St Vincents Hospital, Melbourne.
Professor Ball provided independent expert psychiatric reports which have been used in court for the defence of Catholic clergy. He had also helped treat priests accused of sexual abuse…
Among the trials at which Professor Ball gave independent expert evidence was that of one of Australia’s most notorious serial pedophiles, Father Gerald Ridsdale – a long-term associate of George Pell and the priest at the centre of a controversy over claims that Dr Pell tried to buy the silence of one of Ridsdale’s victims…
The criticism of Professor Ball’s role is likely to add to public disquiet over Dr Pell’s association with and treatment of sexual offenders within the church.
Several of the pedophiles for whom Professor Ball provided expert defence were well known to the Archbishop.
Dr Pell was a priest in Ballarat from 1971 and vicar in charge of the Catholic education system in the Ballarat Diocese, covering western Victoria, from 1973 to 1984.
Three Christian Brothers teachers from that era – Edward Dowlan, Robert Best and Stephen Farrell – have been convicted of sex offences against students at St Alipius Primary and St Patrick’s College in the early 1970s.
At the same time, the school chaplain and parish priest was Gerald Ridsdale.
For a year from early 1973, Ridsdale shared a house with Dr Pell at the St Alipius Presbytery, next door to the primary school.
When Ridsdale faced pedophile charges in May 1993, Dr Pell accompanied him to court to give him moral support.
Dr Pell, then an auxiliary bishop of Melbourne, said at the time that Ridsdale “had made terrible mistakes“. He said: “It was simply a gesture on my part.”
Three years later, on the eve of his swearing-in as archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Pell said he had had “no idea” about Ridsdale’s activities when they lived together.
“I lived there with him and there was not even a whisper,” Dr Pell said then. “It was a different age, it was never mentioned.”
…Shortly before being sworn in as archbishop of Melbourne in August 1996 – after Ridsdale and Best had been convicted – Dr Pell said his first priority was to restore the credibility of the church after the sex scandals.
…Ridsdale’s last parish appointment came in 1986 when he was posted to the town of Horsham, in Victoria’s Wimmera. He is reported to have told a colleague there that his past was catching up with him. And it was. In 1988, one of the Edenhope victims made a complaint, as did a Horsham woman whose son had been molested. But still the church protected him. In 1990, the year that Pell, by now an auxiliary bishop of Melbourne diocese, was made a member of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog – Ridsdale was packed off to New Mexico, where he was supposedly going to be reformed. In fact, he had a nine-month holiday, during which he did “locums” for the local diocese, and sexually abused children, some of whom have confronted the American church.
Time was, however, running out. In 1992, after being appointed chaplain at St John of God hospital in Richmond, NSW, a victim phoned Operation Paradox, a Victorian police child sex abuse phone-in. Three months later he was charged.
When he made his first court appearance in 1993, Pell was by his side. “My sympathies were always with the victims,” Pell said last week, adding that he “had little idea of the full extent and gravity of his (Ridsdale’s) crimes”. Pell now says his accompanying Ridsdale was a mistake, as it misled people about his position.
Just before the trial, Ridsdale travelled home to Ballarat to tell his family about his crimes. They were deeply shocked. He had, unbeknown to them, sexually abused some of his nephews, including David Ridsdale. David has claimed that Pell tried to silence him when he phoned him about the abuse in 1993. Pell denies this, and says, “David’s claims are inconsistent, discredited and wrong”.
What is not in dispute is the breadth of Ridsdale’s crimes. When he told his family, one asked: “How many, Gerald. Four, or five?”. He paused. “Hundreds,” was his reply.
“Please God we’ll be over this before World Youth Day.”
1) Australia cardinal denies cover-up of sex abuse
July 9, 2008
“SYDNEY, Australia (AP) — Australia’s top Roman Catholic cleric has denied trying to cover up a sexual abuse case involving clergy, attempting Tuesday to fight off an embarrassing scandal just days before Pope Benedict XVI arrives for a visit…”
2) Australian Catholic leader in sex abuse row before Pope’s visit
July 8, 2008
3) Church sex abuse row ahead of Pope’s Sydney visit
The Washington Post (Reuters)
July 7, 2008
4) Pell denies sex abuse cover-up
Sydney Morning Herald
July 8, 2008
5) Gospel of Matthew (Chapter 23)
New Jerusalem Bible
23 ‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You pay your tithe of mint and dill and cummin and have neglected the weightier matters of the Law-justice, mercy, good faith! These you should have practised, those not neglected.
24 You blind guides, straining out gnats and swallowing camels!
25 ‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of cup and dish and leave the inside full of extortion and intemperance.
26 Blind Pharisee! Clean the inside of cup and dish first so that it and the outside are both clean.
27 ‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs that look handsome on the outside, but inside are full of the bones of the dead and every kind of corruption.
28 In just the same way, from the outside you look upright, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
29 ‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build the sepulchres of the prophets and decorate the tombs of the upright,
30 saying, “We would never have joined in shedding the blood of the prophets, had we lived in our ancestors’ day.”
31 So! Your own evidence tells against you! You are the children of those who murdered the prophets!
32 Very well then, finish off the work that your ancestors began.
33 ‘You serpents, brood of vipers, how can you escape being condemned to hell?